Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Best New Music: Deer Tick's "Negativity"

One of my favourite groups of wild alt-country hooligans, Deer Tick, dropped their fifth album on Arts & Crafts last Monday – and it’s undoubtedly one of the bands most mature, and fascinating, releases to date. While raucous ringleader John McCauley admittedly penned Negativity during a turbulent personal year (his Dad got sent to the slammer and his engagement crumbled), McCauley spared the anticipated downward booze and drug-fueled spiral and channeled his anguish into an equal parts jangly and accessible pop-rock melange; one that sounds classically McCauley with likable flecks of 70s rock spark.

On the title-tells-all “The Dream's in the Ditch,” McCauley sounds surprisingly enlightened and unfazed – resembling an achy-voiced Tom Petty over the upbeat Americana instrumentation (which features a delightfully acrobatic piano middle-eight). “The Rock,” released earlier in the summer, is an inflating rock number where McCauley’s growl is perfectly pained alongside a bluesy horn hoopla. My alt-country fervour is totally quenched on the Vanessa Carlton-joined twangy duet "In Our Time," however, when he and his lady showcase their Johnny and June charm via harmonies and countryside chords.

To see Deer Tick emerge with an endearing blended flavour of old and new this far into their dynamic, life-of-the-party career – I have to admit that I might be more on board now than I’ve ever been before. They haven't sacrificed what worked before - only added what might just work better for them now.

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